This is a list of over 200 colleges most likely to provide need-based aid (not based on academic merit) to students. I include schools on the list if they meet one of the following requirements:
- Meet 95% or more of freshman financial need according to the Common Data Set (CDS)
- The Average Net Price for freshman with family incomes of $30,000 or less was $8,000 or less.
It’s important that you understand the CDS definitions for meeting financial need. It allows colleges to count any government subsidized student loans as meeting financial need. This includes loans where only the interest payments are made for the students while they attend college full-time. Average Net Price is calculated on gift aid only. It doesn’t include any loans or student work-study.
This is not a list of colleges that offer the best chances for merit aid, ie colleges offering scholarships for good grades.
Such a list depends on the student’s qualifications and will obviously vary from student to student. The list is also likely to include colleges not on this list. In fact, most of the schools that claim to meet 100% of need to not offer any merit aid. It isn’t often that schools would appear on both lists.
This list of colleges is the place to start for those who believe that they will have a low EFC and qualify for significant need-based aid. If you’re interested in learning how to find colleges most likely to provide generous merit aid, I suggest you register for the next session of my MATCH Method Class.
The List indicates the following:
- claims to meet 100% of need.
- claims to meet 95% or more of need.
- requires the PROFILE for financial aid.
- higher percentage of students are taking out non-federal or PLUS loans.
- test optional schools.
- Phi Beta Kappa chapters
Finally, IPEDS data is known to have errors, if you see something that looks wrong, it may very well be. Use the data at your own risk.